I know, I know, it's been fo'evah since I last posted. Although Bridey has been very busy at work and with writing projects, that is no excuse. I began 2016 on a mission to explore the world of Syrian cuisine and I have barely made a dent in my itinerary. So, this summer I am recommitting myself to eating, cooking, and researching Syrian food, with a special focus on Damascene dining. To that end, last night I attempted to make Hashweh, also known as 'rice stuffing.' Multiple Middle Eastern countries offer different renditions of this dish, but there are certain components (ground lamb, medium- to long-grain rice, nuts, dried fruit, cinnamon, onion) common to most versions.
A while back Aussie Beef & Lamb gifted me with some generous cuts, which I used for an auspicious family gathering. The last part of their present was a package of ground lamb, which the lazy cook in me was tempted just to use to make burgers with feta and mint sauce. However, ambitious Bridey took over and decided to make Hashweh. The recipe below is modified from that developed by Suzy at The Mediterranean Dish. I used white onions instead of red and pistachios instead of almonds because for whatever reason I couldn't find slivered almonds (time crunch, couldn't handle advanced knife skills) at Randalls. I blame their absence on Trump, because, well, these days I blame everything on Trump. Moving on.
- 1½ cups medium grain rice
- Olive oil
- 1 small white onion, finely chopped
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 1¾ tsp allspice, divided
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ¾ tsp ground cloves, divided
- ¾ tsp ground cinnamon, divided
- salt and pepper
- ½ cup fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- ⅓-1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
- ⅓-1/2 cup pistachios
- ½ cup dark raisins
- Soak the rice in cold water for 20 minutes. Drain well.
- Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a heavy cooking pot. Add chopped onions in the oil on medium-high heat. Add the ground lamb and cook 7 minutes.
- Add seasonings: 1¼ tsp allspice, 1 tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp ground cloves, ½ tsp ground cinnamon, salt and pepper. Toss together to combine, and cook until the meat is fully browned (8-10 minutes).
- Drain from fat, leaving the meat in the same pot.
- Top the meat with the rice. Add the remainder of the allspice, ground cloves and cinnamon. Add 2½ cups of water to cover the rice.
- Bring the liquid to a rolling boil and allow liquid to reduce significantly.
- Turn the heat to low and cover. Cook for 15 minutes or until moisture has completely been absorbed. Remove from heat.
- Place a large serving platter on the opening of the rice pot and carefully flip the pot contents onto the platter so that the meat layer is on top of the rice.
- Garnish with parsley, toasted pine nuts, pistachios, and raisins.
I can't emphasize enough the importance of using high quality spices in the preparation of this dish; also, for those like me who enjoy the type of winter-y sweetness that comes from cinnamon, add a whole stick.
Technically, Hashweh is a side dish, but technically so is macaroni and cheese, nothing prevents me from eating that as my main course.